That is all I saw in the message from my sister Marge. For a millisecond the recent events were suspended above me. My hypothalamus wrinkled. Beads of sweat started stringing together in the crease around my neck. My hormones told each other it was a false alarm before my brain kicked in. Mom is dead.
The full message read: “I picked up Mom today at Langeland Funeral Home and she is safely nestled in the living room pending her burial.” “She is” was what Marge wrote. Her remains were in an urn nestled in a “living” room. Had Marge lost it? Did she forget that mom went bye-bye to the sweet bye and bye? We all had sent my mother off with respect and honor and tears and mourning. Did she not know that my mother was not contained in a little box? Mom was outside of it. “Margie, get a grip.”
Seriously, not one of my siblings questioned her sanity. Neither did I. We all entered in to what appeared to be a delusional conversation. It was not weird, because we had a grief clause. Grief is lawless and is no respecter of persons. So my mother’s ashes were her to us. If anyone would tell us differently we would pull out our grief clause. We would either wave it in their face of insensitivity or hand it gently to their sincere concern. Those who have been under this lawless dominion would never question our break from reality. Contrary wise, they would enter in with grace and comfort. They certainly did.
If ashes had DNA, my mom’s were in a box in Marge’s living room, nestled. What an appropriate word. Nestled. It is a transitive and intransitive verb.
Transitive: comfortable position; to settle into a position that feels comfortable, warm, and safe, or to lay a part of the body in such a position.
Intransitive: be secluded; be in a sheltered or secluded place.
Thank God her ashes were not in a tray. Presumably, they were nestled near the sofa. I wondered how it would go if I had been the one to pick her up and nestle her? She would not last long. Buford the bloodhound would knock her clean off the coffee table with his bull whip tail. The kids might mistake the urn for a fish food container and feed the guppies. Someone might lift her up to dust underneath and her ashes to ashes would all fall down.
Mom and Marge, I mean neither of you any disrespect. I beg you in urn-est to forgive my adolescent imagination. Did I just write that? Sheesh!
Now I feel terrible. Terrible because I know one recent morning my sister walked past the living room to make some coffee and stopped short. She saw my mom sitting there and emotions gushed from her ducts. She thought she could keep mom in a box. Mom’s ashes might as well have been rubbed on her forehead on a Wednesday. Our Lenten grief pasted on her until Easter morning. Resurrection then is her one hope of reunion. He is risen. Marge will rise.
Your words breathe life into my grief John boy. I do not know how you do it. My words just bring anger to the eyes of adolescence.
My words just bring anger to the eyes of adolescence…still chewing on this sentence. John boy